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Your gut microbiome is hands-down one of the most important aspects of your health. When your microbiome is in balance, your body can fight off infections, keep you slim, and even keep your brain sharp.
Yet, when that balance goes haywire, obesity, asthma, diabetes, dementia and even immune problems are just around the corner. That’s because your gut is command central for your immune system and we know how important that is in not only fighting bacteria and viruses, but also myriad diseases.
And according to a recent study, the gut microbiome you depend on so much to keep you healthy could be facing a hidden danger — your home.
Semi-volatile organic compounds in the air and dust of your home
Your home is full of chemicals known as semi-volatile organic compounds, including:
- Phthalates that are used in detergents, plastic clothing like raincoats, shower curtains and personal-care products, such as soap, shampoo and hair spray
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are used in stain and water-repellent fabrics, coatings for carpets and furniture, nonstick cooking products, polishes, paints and cleaning products.
These are chemicals that you and your family are exposed to daily since they hang in the air and are present in dust. And if you have young children, they can ingest them simply by crawling across the rug or popping a toy into their mouth.
They’re chemicals that, because we don’t see them, it’s easy to ignore the research that’s come out in recent years alerting us to the potential dangers we face.
Yet, research published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters says that could be a big mistake, especially when it comes to the one organ that could afford you the most protection…
Changes in chemical levels lead to alterations in the gut
A team of researchers at Washington State University has found for the first time a correlation between the levels of bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract and the number of common chemicals found in the home environment.
The team specifically focused on toddlers and preschoolers, measuring levels of those semi-organic compounds in their blood and urine and comparing them to the composition of their gut microbiome through fecal samples.
And the results were clear…
When the researchers looked at the levels of fungi and bacteria in the gut, they found that children who had higher levels of the chemicals in their bloodstream showed differences in their gut microbiome.
In fact, children with higher levels of PFASs in their blood had a reduction in the amount and diversity of bacteria in their gut. And those with increased levels of phthalates showed a reduction in fungi populations of the microbiome.
In other words, those chemicals in your house, in your personal care products, your shower curtain, your furniture and your carpets could be destroying the balance of your gut microbiome and leaving you open to disease.
So how can you protect yourself and your family?
The Environmental Working Group is an excellent source if you want to learn more about what products you should and shouldn’t bring into your home to lessen its toxic load.
But don’t delay in taking steps to detoxify your body, including:
- Stay active — Getting your blood flowing helps to lower inflammation and rid your body of the buildup of toxic sludge that makes you sick.
- Drink more water — Hydration helps flush out waste so that your body can remove them through sweating, breathing and urination. It can also help you void regularly, so waste doesn’t sit in the colon longer than necessary, seeping toxins through your colon walls into your bloodstream.
- Eat foods high in prebiotic fiber and probiotics — like inulin and fermented foods.
- Get more sleep — Sleep helps your body’s systems recharge and eliminate toxic waste overnight.
- Support your liver — Since your liver is your No. 1 organ in charge of clearing out the toxins in your body, giving it the support it needs to function at its best is a no-brainer. NAC, selenium, milk thistle, turmeric and alpha lipoic acid are good to start. Also, cut out fatty foods that could lead to fatty liver.
Finally, in addition to clearing out the toxins you’re exposed to in your home, you should also focus on repopulating your gut with probiotics for a healthier microbiome.
Remember, your gut health and your overall health go hand in hand. Don’t let the everyday chemicals in your home destroy both.
Neuroscience. Sleep: the brain’s housekeeper? — National Library of Medicine
Water, Hydration and Health — NCBI
Mechanisms governing the health and performance benefits of exercise — National Library of Medicine
Revisit gut microbiota and its impact on human health and disease — Science Direct